As the April 9 Israeli elections draw near, the campaigns of the two front-runners for the premiership—the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and the former IDF chief Benny Gantz—have been striking a similar note: each claims that the opposing candidate is soft on terror, willing to make territorial concessions to the Palestinians, and reluctant to act toughly and decisively against Hamas. Haviv Rettig Gur argues that this rhetorical posturing obscures the fact that the two candidates fundamentally agree on their approach toward Gaza:
After Arab states failed to dislodge Israel through military effort, [a] new strategy [evolved that] seeks to replace direct confrontation by military formations with, [in the words of one Israeli expert], “the methodical erosion of the enemy’s resolve” through unconventional guerrilla-like means. . . . Part of this strategy of permanent confrontation includes a redefinition of victory. Whereas Israelis, like most Westerners, are culturally primed to seek a decisive clash, Hamas and Hizballah see in mere survival a victory, since it permits the continuation of the muqawama [“resistance”]. So long as the enemy doesn’t win, it loses. . . .
Netanyahu, the prime minister in 2014, and Gantz, then the IDF chief of staff, are among the key architects of Israel’s response to [this strategy]. That response flows from a basic premise: in this waiting game, time is on Israel’s side. There is a corollary: Israel can do a great deal in the meantime to ensure this long war concludes in its favor.
And so Israel has set about degrading the capabilities of its guerrilla enemies and growing its own non-conventional capabilities, from missile defense to cyber and espionage to precision air power to the psychological arena intended to undermine the terror groups’ backing at home. Hence the Gaza blockade and the persistent, increasingly public Israeli air campaign against Hizballah’s supply chain in Syria. . . .
It is no accident, then, that neither Netanyahu nor Gantz believes it is in Israel’s interest to uproot Hamas from Gaza. . . . This is ultimately a strategy of containment, of demonstrating . . . that Israel is better positioned to win not only a conventional conflict but this new psychological game of “chicken” as well.